Business Continuity Planning
All you Need to Know About Developing and Implementing a Working Business Continuity Plan
What would you do if one day you get to your computer and find no single file for your business? Frustrated and confused, right? No matter the size of your business, there are always chances for threats and other disasters. With modern technologies, your business is exposed to threats and disruptions. Therefore, without proper strategies for data recovery, your organization is facing risks of loss of revenue, high costs of maintenance, among others. Disasters such as fire, floods, and other natural events require proper mitigations that may affect the way your business operates. That is where Business Continuity Planning (BCP) gets into use.
In this article, I will take you through every step and guide you accordingly on how to create an effective BCP for your business. Once you have the right information, you don’t have to worry about the unknown. You will always be prepared, remember!
Understanding What is Business Continuity Planning
Business continuity planning involves coming up with a system that can help in the recovery and prevention of threats and disasters that may potentially happen to your business. Through various personnel and stakeholders, essential information is documented in a business continuity plan. The plan is simply a documentation of actions, strategies, processes, and other important information that an organization should use to ensure that its operations are restored and operating even after threats and disasters occur. Putting into considerations that business should resume to normal, the plan should provide all essential information on various business functions, clearly define and establish sustainable business processes and systems in case of a disruption.
Is There any Difference Between BCP and a Disaster Recovery Plan (DR)?
Most of the people will tell you that BCP and DR the same. However, it is a good idea to understand the components and the structure that each follows. Most of the organizations have IT systems that store all the company’s databases and other critical files. Mostly, a disaster recovery plan focuses on restoration of an Information Technology (IT) processes and operations that are involved in the whole infrastructure after unplanned happens. Again, the Disaster Recovery Plan just tries to cover a small part of the plan while BCP focuses on the entire functions and processes of the organization.
Who Therefore is Required to Develop BCP?
Creating and developing a proper business plan is brings together collaborative efforts both from the IT experts and other executive officials from the company. Combining different knowledge from different experts will provide a chance to exhaust all the ideas that will lead to a successful plan. It is worth noting that the BCP requires continuous updates to accommodate new insights that arise from different professionals in an organization.
Why Would you Require Business Continuity Planning?
As you want to maintain your business as more competitive as possible, understanding why you should have a proper plan is essential here. Here are some of the benefits of business continuity planning.
- It Restores Your Business Competitive Advantage
Take advantage in that most of your competitors don’t have a business continuity plan. This way, in case of a disruption, you will be likely to resume operations, and you will have higher chances of attracting more customers and other business partners.
- Your Financial Risk is Mitigated
One of the things you should worry about in case of any disruption is data breach because of data loss or issues with operating systems. However, with a proper plan and with a more reliable network, your back up procedure and process are in place.
- Your Business Reputation and Brand Value is Preserved
You definitely would not like to appear to the public as incompetent and ruin your reputation. Nobody wants that. The ability to address issues that arise properly, in terms of communication or guidance to the next steps will earn you more points in the business industry.
- It Saves Lives and Builds More Confidence Among Your Employees and Customers
If there are a fire outbreak in your area of operations, quick and organized steps to follow either to use fire drills or efforts to evacuate people from the building are a sign that you’re organized, prepared, and care about lives.
- A Proper Plan Will Help you get Useful Organizational Data
Most of the activities that BCP is involved in producing huge volumes of data such as financial impacts, business units, crucial tasks, and other objectives that should help you get useful information about the operation of your business. With this kind of data, it would be easy to refer and utilize the information in case of a disruption.
Ready to Develop a BCP? Here are the Items you Should Include in Your Plan
Having listed down some of the benefits of a business continuity plan, I believe the next step you want to take is to have a plan on how to create one. To make it effective, make sure you include the following elements:
- The Purpose and Scope of the Plan
This should provide a wide range of information regarding the importance of the business continuity plan. The extent to which areas the plan will cover in the entire organization’s operations should come out clearly. All the opportunities and possibilities to deal with disruptions should be mentioned in this part.
- The Objectives of the BCP
Clearly define the goals and objectives the plan intends to realize at the end of the day. This provides guidance on what basis the organization is operating and the need to which the plan tries to cover. Here, outline all the objectives that the business continuity plan intends to reach as a matter of business development and growth.
- Crucial Contact Information in the Initial Data
When it comes to handling and addressing issues during disruptions, communication is a vital aspect for every organization. This means the way information is disbursed in terms of steps to follow or guidance to other activities should be organized and timely. You will need to include important contacts in this section that can necessitate proper communication management when such situations arise.
- Emergency Response and Management
Planning and putting in place resources and responsibilities that will help deal with these threats and disasters is crucial for your business and organization as a whole. This proves the level of your preparedness, mitigations to some risks and response to hazards, hence, very critical. A list of various experts and their roles and responsibilities should clearly be outlined to avoid confusion when unplanned happens.
- Mitigation Plans for Potential Risks
Here you will need to establish and provide plans to address predictable risks. The plans should help you reduce the impacts that may be caused by risks associated with disruptions. Various strategies put in place to minimize financial, maintenance, and operational risks should be defined to give proper guidance on the same.
- Data and site Backup Information
Having a proper backup strategy is essential to every business. The strategy begins with establishing the data to back up, selection, and implementation of software and hardware backup procedures and then creating a schedule for backups. You should also confirm that the backed up data is accurate to improve its quality.
Others include Planning on the Maintenance Protocols, Assembly Points (when an emergency occurs), and Local Emergency Personnel Coordination.
Here are the Steps to Follow to Create an Effective Business Continuity Plan
I believe at this point that you have already decided to come up with a BCP for your business. Before I take you through the steps to do this, make sure that your plan includes thorough and detailed information on the potential threats and disasters, steps and procedural guidance, how to protect and reduce the impacts of the possible risk, and clearly outline who will lead every process.
Here are the steps:
- Establish and Clearly Outline Goals and Objectives of Your Plan
Setting goals around your business continuity plan’s objectives are the first step, and you should keep it as a priority. Having a projected budget for the plan will not only help you plan financially, but your organization will be able to recover easily from possible huge losses for the business.
During this step, clearly define what goals each department should achieve, possible outcomes from an effective continuity plan, and the milestones that would help your organization track progress and recovery. It will be a great idea to research carefully and provide materials for any preparations and training time for the same.
- Organize and Give Responsibilities to Your Business Continuity Plan
Having a command team who keenly know and understand their responsibilities in case of disruption is an important aspect of your business continuity plan. It would be a great idea to include contact information, special responsibilities, and any other detailed information that could help understand what is his or her in the response management or any other task in case of unplanned events.
Here are the two groups of teams you should include in your plan:
This team is involved in the actual handling of different activities in case of a disruption. Putting into consideration that your organization has different departments, outline various persons who handle specific responsibilities. Some of the teams to include here include disaster recovery team, IT teams, Finance, and many others.
Control and Command Teams
These teams provide the required execution procedures, communications, and the required resources during a crisis. During such disruptions, a proper recovery management team will help plan accordingly and give directions to control the issue.
- Carry out a Business Impact Assessment and Analysis
Conducting assessment for the impacts that could be caused by potential threats and disasters will help you come up with a better plan in advance. In this step, let your team come up with a template that outlines different forecasts and predictions in case of a threat.
Running several tests will help them modify and provide updates to your business continuity plan in advance. Having listed down the prediction, go-ahead to provide critical details of your core operation for the business, and those areas that you feel may be affected the most in case of a disruption. Define and outline the resources that should be put in place for different departments to make sure that their operations are still running.
- Identify the Core Business Areas and Functions
Let your team discuss the core business units and the impact they may have in case of a disruption. A clear understanding of the critical business processes will help you reduce the damage that these events may cause to the business. In addition to that, the documents should clearly outline measures put in place to make sure that important business functions are still operational and give directions on what to do to make sure that this happens. If, for instance, there is a fire outbreak in the site, and mostly your business is involved in sales, outline various alternatives for your employees, such as working from home and doing sales offsite.
- Provide a Strategic Plan to Maintain Business Operations
Strategies should be defined and put in place to make sure preparedness is there for your organization towards restoring and maintaining core business activities. First off, you will need to come up with Prevention Strategies by providing detailed actions that should help prevent threats and other unplanned activities. Secondly, Response Strategies should provide extensive response management actions for each business unit. Lastly, you should establish Recovery Strategies that should define mechanisms put in place to contain any event in case of a disruption.
- Develop and Determine Training, Testing and Quality Assurance Program
At this level, you need to establish a curriculum that will necessitate the training of your continuity plan, testing of the real situations, and maintaining the quality assurance strategy on the same. This could be done by conducting tests and reviews, either through internal or external reviews.
Grab These Final Remarks
It’s worth noting that, to have a successful business continuity plan, you need to include every department in your organization. As I mentioned earlier, it is a collaborative effort targeting to bringing together different ideas and insights for the plan. Regardless of the size of your business, a proper strategic plan for your business in case of disruptions will help you reduce the risks that may negatively affect your operations. Having somewhere to refer for critical information that would help you respond and recover from unusual events. You are now informed!